From Atlanta to Cody: Robert W. Woodruff Foundation continues support of the Cody Firearms Museum
Robert W. Woodruff’s lifelong love for the West, and Cody in particular, was sparked by a childhood encounter with William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody himself. Charles Wickersham, a friend of Woodruff’s father who worked for the Atlanta and West Point Railroad, arranged a special meeting between the two as the Wild West show toured through the southeastern United States. With his trademark charisma, Buffalo Bill regaled the young Robert with colorful tales of the West.
Charles Elliot, Woodruff’s friend and author of the biography Mr. Anonymous: Robert W. Woodruff of Coca-Cola, wrote, “for a long time afterward, Robert had visions of following in Cody’s earlier tracks and becoming a big game guide, where a man had to be tough and competent, and often must depend on his ingenuity and resourcefulness for survival.” Though he pursued a career in business and became the president of Coca-Cola, Woodruff eventually satisfied his love of the western outdoors on Buffalo Bill’s TE Ranch, located about thirty-two miles southwest of Cody on the Southfork of the Shoshone River. He and his wife Miss Nell purchased the ranch in 1941 and owned it for thirty years.
For decades, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation has been a generous supporter of the Cody Firearms Museum. The Winchester Arms Collection, the heart of the Cody Firearms Museum—plus the initial capital funds to house it—were secured in part through Woodruff’s personal friendship with John Olin of the Olin Corporation, Winchester’s parent company. In addition to Woodruff’s gift of his personal firearms to the collection, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation endowed the firearms curator position and donated another major gift to the current reinstallation, perpetuating his memory.
Woodruff’s generosity may be best known in Atlanta, but it’s clear to us that part of his heart will always belong in the West!
First published in Points West magazine in the Summer 2019 issue.